Emperors & Explorers
Camp with the Emperors then fly to the South Pole, the holy grail of Polar Explorers
- 9 days November – December
Two extraordinary experiences in one action-packed adventure
Fly by ski aircraft to an Emperor penguin rookery on the remote, south coast of the Weddell Sea. Here we set up camp for our small group and spend several days totally immersed in the activity of the rookery. Photograph majestic Emperors against a spectacular backdrop of ice cliffs, pressure ridges and icebergs. Fall asleep to a chorus of trumpeting calls and wake to find curious penguins outside your tent.
Camping on-site offers the freedom to enjoy the wildlife spectacle at your own pace with the support of our experienced Antarctic guides and staff naturalist, who will make sure we do not disturb the rookery. This authentic safari offers more than just wildlife viewing. You will literally live with the Emperors and witness first-hand their amazing adaptation to the Antarctic environment.
Next we fly to the South Pole by ski aircraft, covering in several hours the distance that took the early explorers years of planning and months of hardship to achieve. History comes alive as we stand at 90 South and imagine how they felt heading out across the frozen continent and into the unknown 100 years ago. We feel the spirit of determination and discovery that has inspired a century of Antarctic exploration and scientific research. And we sense that a journey to the South Pole is as significant today as it was so many years ago.
Day 1 – Fly to Antarctica
Fly from Chile to Antarctica by private transport jet. Land on ice runway. Settle in at Union Glacier Camp.
Day 2 – Acclimatise to Antarctica
Today is an easy day to acclimatise to Antarctic conditions. We will have an orientation to camp and life in Antarctica, review expedition logistics with our guide, and enjoy a presentation by our staff naturalist about coastal wildlife and wildlife viewing procedures.
Days 3-5 Living with the Emperors
After a leisurely breakfast we pack up and fly by ski aircraft to the remote south coast of the Weddell Sea. We land on multi-year sea ice near the Emperor rookery and our guides set up a cozy field camp beside the aircraft. The rest of the day is ours to explore and we have our first audience with the Emperors.
Experience the rhythms of the rookery at your own pace over the next three days. Take guided walks with our ANI naturalist or do your own thing. Meal times are flexible so you can photograph and explore when the lighting and mood are just right. Meals are prepared by our guides and include hot meals and portable snacks.
Watch adults display and feed their young. Listen to trumpeting and whistling calls as parents and chicks search for one another. If lucky, we’ll photograph Weddell seals lazing by tide cracks. And at each step we’ll marvel at the magnificence of where we are. Each night, fall asleep to the mingled calls of thousands of Emperors.
At the end of our third day we pack-up the aircraft and fly back to Union Glacier Camp.
Day 6 Union Glacier
We take a day to enjoy the comforts of Union Glacier Camp and prepare for the next leg of our journey.
Day 7 In the footsteps of the Explorers
Today we fly to the South Pole, the holy grail of polar explorers. A 4-5 hr flight brings us to our destination and as we step off the aircraft, we are immediately struck by the significance of this place and our journey. We have arrived at the heart of the 7th continent and at the axis of the earth. Here all 360 lines of longitude meet and the ice is nearly 10,000 ft (3,000m) thick. This last great geographical prize captured the imagination of a generation of explorers, who suffered extreme hardship and even gave their lives to claim it as their own.
We will take plenty of time for photographs and reflection at the Geographic South Pole and at the colorful Ceremonial Pole which commemorates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. Inside Amundsen-Scott station we will learn what makes the South Pole a unique scientific laboratory and visit the store to buy souvenirs. After our visit we re-board the ski aircraft and return to Union Glacier Camp, where we will toast our achievement and enjoy a celebration meal prepared by our chefs.
The South Pole has been designated an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA #5) to conserve the environmental, scientific and historical values of the area. We ask for your cooperation in respecting visitor guidelines during any time we may spend at the South Pole.
Day 8 Union Glacier
On our final day we have a chance to explore scenic Union Glacier. This day also provide a second opportunity for our South Pole flight, in case of poor weather on Day 7.
Day 9* Return to Punta Arenas, Chile
The aircraft from Punta Arenas will arrive with a new collection of avid explorers and you depart for the final leg of your Antarctic experience. Our ANI staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel.
No two Antarctic experiences are exactly the same. This is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. The itinerary above highlights typical activities and experiences. Exact timeline and details will vary from trip to trip. Trip length may vary by departure
Please anticipate delays and do not plan anything for at least a week after your scheduled return. Allow yourself to enjoy this unique experience without the stress of pending commitments.
Union Glacier Camp
In the spectacular and remote southern Ellsworth Mountains
Our main Antarctic camp is located in the southern Ellsworth Mountains, on the broad expanse of Union Glacier. The setting is spectacular. The accommodation spacious and comfortable. The meals fresh and delicious. The service and support unparalleled. Majestic peaks rise in all directions offering plenty of opportunities for scenic excursions, technical climbs and ski tours. At camp there is little wind, providing a comfortable environment to relax and take it all in.
We are 1,870 miles (3010 km) from the southern tip of Chile and a stone’s throw from Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica. Our nearest neighbours are at the South Pole, just over 600 miles (1000km) away. Our geographic location is 79°46’S 82°52’W. And our elevation 2, 297ft (700m) above sea level.
Only Accessible by Air
Union Glacier Camp is only accessible by air and your journey begins with a 4 ¼ hour flight from Punta Arenas, Chile. Our wheeled aircraft lands on a naturally-occurring ice runway on the Union Glacier, where you take your first steps in Antarctica. Climb aboard one of our specially adapted vans for the 5 mile (8km) ride to camp, where a warm welcome awaits you.
The Only Facility of its Kind
Union Glacier is the only facility of its kind in Antarctica. Our full-service camp operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January). We also maintain and operate the ice runway, a separate skiway and an efficient logistics hub to provide support to private expeditions and National Antarctic Programs.
Much goes on behind the scenes to ensure your safety and comfort on the ice. Communications experts keep regular contact with the outside world. Heavy equipment mechanics maintain and operate a fleet of transport and runway maintenance equipment. Our meteorologist provides weather information to flight crews. Experienced pilots fly you to onward destinations. And general support staff do the thousand-and-one tasks that keep camp in tip-top shape. Meet Our Team.
Our double-walled sleeping tents are roomy and comfortable. They are well suited to Antarctic conditions and are based on a design used by Shackleton’s Endurance expedition. Each tent houses two guests. You sleep in your polar sleeping bag with a double mattress, pillow and linen provided by ANI. The tents are naturally heated by the 24-hour sunlight and interior temperatures range from 25°F – 68°F (4°C – 20°C).
The dining tent is the heart of our camp. It has a full kitchen and dining area and serves as a gathering place for meals, activities and conversation. You will enjoy hearty, fresh-cooked meals, baked goods and tantalizing desserts prepared by our chefs. Self-serve snacks and beverages are available anytime. We regularly fly in fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meats and a variety of beers and Chilean wines from Punta Arenas, Chile. Wine and beer are served with dinner.
At each turn a new experience awaits. Take in wide open vistas from the top of Charles Peak. Explore ice pools in the Elephant Head Valley. Ramble along multi-colored Spectrum Ridge. Cross country ski over frozen fields of sastrugi. Photograph wind sculpted clouds, unusual snow features and a thousand shades of white. Navigate using GPS. Carve snow sculptures. Or simply relax and take it all in. For the more adventurous, try ice climbing on the massive windscoop surrounding Charles Peak, scramble up the serpentine Ridge of Mount Rossman or camp out on the polar plateau.
Poor weather days provide opportunities for talks and skills sessions on diverse Antarctic themes. You can escape with a puzzle, game or DVD in our heated multipurpose tent. Sketch or paint. Meet other explorers and adventurers from around the world. Or relax with a book from our library. Whatever you choose to do, take time to experience the immense space and solitude that is Antarctica.
Union Glacier has a small clinic staffed by a doctor and medic. They are available to treat minor injuries and illness or in case of a medical emergency. We stock a selection of medications and fundamental equipment for the care and stabilization of patients. More about safety and medical support
Communications and Meteorology
Good communication and weather information are crucial for safe operations. Not surprising then that our Comms facility is the center of our “on ice” operations. We use satellite phone, VHF and HF radio to maintain regular contact with our Punta Arenas office, field parties, aircraft and other bases. You can make outgoing Iridium phone calls from Union Glacier and Vinson Base Camps. Pre-paid phone cards may be purchased at Union Glacier or Vinson Base Camps. Our meteorologist uses local observations, information from our automatic weather stations and satellite imagery to provide wind and weather information to flight crews, climbers and expeditions.
Power and Charging
Our systems are solar-powered to minimize our environmental impact. We are able to offer limited solar/charging facilities to our guests. You will need a 12V DC-DC charger capable of plugging in to a “female” cigarette lighter socket, or a 110V charger with North American plug, to use the system.
Specially adapted 4×4 passenger vans are used for excursions around Union Glacier and to shuttle guests to and from the runway. We also own a fleet of specialized vehicles for snow clearing, runway maintenance and ground transportation in Antarctica. These include an industrial snow-blower, several tractors, snowcat, skiway groomer and a number of snowmobiles and sleds. A team of mechanics operate and maintain these machines.
Two twin-engine, ski aircraft transport passengers, cargo and fuel beyond Union Glacier Camp. Our ski aircraft park to one side of camp and use a separate skiway.
Dates & Cost
|Camping with Emperor Penguins & Flying to the South Pole|
- 9 days 26 Nov – 4 Dec 2017
*We reserve the right to revise our prices in the event of significant changes in the price of aviation kerosene and aircraft charter rates.
- Transfers to and from airport for Antarctic flights.
- Round trip flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to Antarctica including 25kg luggage allowance.
- All programmed flights within Antarctica.
- Meals and accommodation during your stay in the Antarctic.
- Celebration dinner after returning from the Emperor Penguin colony.
- Support of Field Guides and staff Physician throughout your journey.
- Use of recreational equipment while in Union Glacier, Antarctica.
- Guided trekking, light climbing tours and activities around Union Glacier area.
- Official Emperor Penguin customised certificate.
What’s not included
- Commercial flights to and from Punta Arenas Chile.
- Meals and accommodation other than while in Antarctica.
- Airport transfers other than those for Antarctic flights.
- Personal equipment and clothing (polar clothing is available for rent).
- Any additional expenses while in Punta Arenas due to delays.
- Any baggage costs over the confirmed program allowance.
- Insurance Coverage – Personal, Medical, Evacuation, or otherwise.
How to book
To initiate your reservation, please contact us as soon as possible to place an option on the voyage and cabin grade of your choice. The Booking Form is to be signed, completed and returned to Adventure Associates along with your deposit. Reservations are established only when you receive written confirmation and acceptance of the deposit payment and Booking Form.All balances must be made in USA Dollars (US$) by bank draft made payable to ‘Adventure Associates’. Please contact us for our account details should you wish to pay by telegraphic transfer. Deposits may be made by credit card for direct bookings only.Cancellations and RefundsWritten instructions only will be accepted by Adventure Associates to cancel a reservation. Cancellation charges are subject to regulations or airlines, cruise companies, coach and tour operators, hotels and any other Principals involved. If it is necessary to cancel your arrangements, the following non-refundable provisions will apply.If cancellation occurs within the 89 day period and full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and unpaid monies are due immediately.
|Deposit required:||US$5,000 per person|
|Balance due:||90 days prior to departure.|
|If booking within|
89 days of departure:
|full payment must be made|
|More than 90 days prior to departure||US$2,000 per person cancellation fee|
|On or within 89 days prior to departure||Loss of 100% of total booking cost.|